Universal’s release of DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age stayed on target from what we saw yesterday with an opening Wednesday of $1.85M in a very broken exhibition landscape where there’s only 2,650 theaters open right now out of national footprint of 5,5K. Croods 2 is booked at 2,211 theaters. Five-day projections are unpredictable as we don’t know how business will play out during the pandemic; there’s hope that Croods 2 might do $10M by Sunday, but that’s a lofty hope. In a normal market, moviegoing eases on Thanksgiving Day, and Good Friday is one of the busiest B.O. days of the year. Lord knows what the trends are now.
The overall U.S./Canada theater count of 2,65K is lower this weekend than the number of theaters which were open during Freaky‘s first weekend on Nov. 13-15, a time when well over 50% of the nation’s movie theaters had the light on, i.e. California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and New Mexico — all closed now with other exhibitors contending with capacity and curfew limitations. Croods 2‘s opening day is light years away from what its 2013 first installment did during a normal marketplace with an opening day on March 22 that year of $11.6M, a 3-day of $43.6M and a final domestic of $187.1M, $587.2M WW.
The Croods: A New Age notched an A CinemaScore on its opening day, on par with the first movie. Critics are at 71% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, not far from the first movie’s 72%.
The goods news for those exhibitors braving it is that Universal spent to open this movie, promoting via their NBC Universal and Comcast tentacles aka their Symphony program along with hefty promotional partners like Vizio, Chime, Burger King, especially for the pandemic. We can see the results of Uni’s ad spend here (estimated to be around $27M in TV spots per iSpot) at the box office as Croods 2‘s opening day is arguably the second best opening day on record since cinemas reopened during the pandemic ranking after Disney/20th Century Studios’ $3.1M first day of New Mutants back in August (We do not know what Tenet did on its opening day as Warner Bros never reported, and remember, the movie was confined to Canada then). Croods 2 blew away its holdover competition (most of it from Uni) yesterday, i.e. 2.) Freaky with around $160K, $6.1M cume, 3.) War With Grandpa with $120K, $16.5M cume, 4.) Let Him Go with $90K, $8.1M total, 5.) Come Play with $80K, $8.3M total.
Uni is optimistic about Croods 2‘s launch abroad in seven offshore markets, and will tout that number by Sunday, particularly China; the first 2013 movie (released by 20th Century Fox) grossing $63.3M in the PRC. Croods 2 is also opening in Singapore and the Middle East this weekend. The studio is also excited to see how the sequel turns out roughly 30 days from now once it drops on PVOD. Already available to rent at $19.99 in home are Focus Features’ Come Play and Let Him Go.
On the downside, the Thanksgiving box office stretch will be the worst ever on record because nothing is normal out there. Last year, the 5-day holiday was the second best per Comscore with $263.65M. The year before, 2018, set a box office holiday record with $315.4M. Frozen 2, in its second weekend, set a Thanksgiving record with $125M last year, the most made by any movie over the holiday’s five-day stretch. With studios like Warner Bros looking to have both cuts of their pie by releasing Wonder Woman 1984 in theaters and HBO Max on Christmas, and Godzilla vs. Kong poised to follow a similar form of release in 2021, and more studios poised to push more big pics onto PVOD or their streaming services, we cannot proclaim moviegoing as being dead. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Local safety protocols are stringent not only for cinemas, but restaurants as well. To say that moviegoing will be dead in the future, is to also say that concerts, live sporting events and cruises are dead too. We’re social creatures of habit, and once we truly know it’s safe out there with a vaccine taking its full effect, studios should regain faith in regards to re-investing in a theatrical release. The Spanish flu of 1918 didn’t annihilate the entire 20th century.
More on Croods 2. While other major studios vacated the theatrical release calendar post Tenet‘s lackluster launch at the B.O., even with Disney pulling Soul out of Thanksgiving in exchange for a Dec. 25 Disney+ release, Uni stayed committed to Croods: A New Age in theaters, blasting off the trailer in September to 42M views in its first 24-hours, now over 300M to date. Uni teamed with TikTok to utilize influencer platforms for multiple challenges leading up to release, i.e. “Crood Perfect” a riff on the popular Dude Perfect trick shot series, Beauty Transformation and Awkward Slow Dance duet which racked up more than 25M views from influencer posts and an impressive 24M views altogether.
The band HAIM dropped the song “Feel The Thunder” from the sequel across social media platforms. There’ was a special promotional partnership with Nintendo’s Animal Crossing allowing gamers to visit the Croods’ and Bettermans’ family at the Croods Cove. Celebrities and influencers known in this space were sent promotions and major Animal Crossing players have been hosted on dedicated tours with videos nearing 100K views.
Universal teamed with Feeding America, giving fans the opportunity to see a special screening of The Croods: A New Age via a drive-in experience located at Universal Citywalk. This experience featured immersive set pieces and photo ops for fans all without leaving the security of their cars.
Via the Comcast/NBCUniversal Symphony program, Croods 2 was advertised on E!, Bravo, Universal Kids, Syfy with custom content on the conglom’s streamer Peacock. Spots were booked during the Stanley Cup Finals, PGA Tour, French Open, NASCAR along with NBCUni holiday programming like today’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and The National Dog Show.